A Sunday pranzo…

I was unexpectedly invited and gladly attended a Sunday pranzo yesterday. It was down at the ol’ frantoio… or, oil press… in a building cum house situated in the nether-land between the Aulella river, the car mechanic’s cinder-block shack and the Catholic Church of Codiponte. Typical of Italy, the house is multi-functional: work below, living & feasting above and renters above all.

We were 17. A tight group too. Mostly residents of il Borgo Castello and their sundry non-borgo friends. Though they have all known each other for eons, a bond of solidarity was formed while slaving at the frantoio for the Sagra dei Pomi last September. For me, it was wonderful to be a member of the party though a straggler. You has abandoned me and Our Adored Canines for Sardinia, of all places. Crafty fellow too. Warm enough to swim. And, Thursday is the Day of the Dead… or, i Morti… when 3/4’s of Italy hop into their FIATS and clog traffic for hours & hours on end to put flowers on the graves of i nonni, zii, i cari. Boon to the flower industry. All You had to do was tack on 3 days of paid holiday to the Day of the Death one… though on a Saturday, it’s still paid… to the two weekends to get 10-days off. Fantastico, ne?

The food of the banquet was beyond belief or my physical capacity to eat all that was passed under, near or, to my mouth. I will not post photos. Drool without them. Here’s the menu…

antipasto… of pecorino dipped in home-cultured honey, bruschetta di pomodori su pane nero which, is probably the most unimaginative thing to serve these days but, they were out of this world warm yet crisp, sweet yet tangy, tomato-y yet savory with the local olive oil. I half thought some transgenic trick of had been employed. I ate my fill along with piping plastic cups of a very dry pro-secco I had brought as my offering to the feast. Oh! And You & I have tried to ween these folk from the use of plastic but to no avail… darn it!

secondo antipasto… muscoli ripieni which, were to die for, a carpaccio of anchovies, which provoked a 2nd death AND a salad of semi-sweet orange pieces mixed-in with a smoke fish… I know. Sounds ghastly. It was delicious… whose name remains unknown to me but, I had 3 helpings and went over and hugged the woman responsible! Then, I died a 3rd death, happy & full. No reprieve though…

primo piatto… fresh made tagliatelle with muscles and a medley of herbs, one I believe was sorrel. Another is found along Italian state roads. Don’t ask. Got a mountain of this pasta so, I passed on seeking further servings…

secondo piatto… fritto misto di pesce! And done by a local fish expert too. Now, I come from The South and we like our fried stuff done with a heavy, spicy batter. We like our crust, in other words. Not so yesterday’s faire… light, not oily, crisp, tasty too were the gambaretti, acciughe, calamari e totoni. I over did the intake on this. I wanted to kick-back and take a rest but…

contorno… of my absolute favourite feel-good Italian food of white beans, crunchy red onions, black pepper, sale, leggero olio d’olivo and and big leafy prezzemolo too!

dessert… a fig & walnut pie, a chocolate cake with a super-structure of chocolate mousse on top… an architectural wonder, if I may say so… and delightful bignets of such a refined delicacy and balance of sweetness, I had to go over and hug the same woman from the fish salad for her confections from Heaven… and her hands too. Personally, I hate sweet sweets. These bignets were rarefied cream & air and only a hint of sweet. Perfect…

cafe’ and grappa… I took the first, passed on the second and then fled home with the excuse of liberating My Adored Canines. I had been at the table for four and a half hours!!!

While I freed the Dogs from their afternoon’s confinement, I noticed that those remaining were dancing on the frantoio’s huge terrace. And the thought came to me of what an art history professor had once explained about Italian Renaissance entertaining… it was done mostly during daylight hours. Safer to move about than at night, what with armed thugs in tights and other nefarious delinquents with clubs lurking around the piazze. One sat down to a served and multi-course meal at mid-day, and then, there was dancing following. Hunting was most definitely an optional. So, I had just partaken of the remnants of the Renaissance… to my glorious fill too! Gads.

Italian House - Banquets

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Summer’s finito…

It’s official… Summer is over. You spent last Saturday afternoon un-clipping the awning to the gazebo out on the aia. The fabric covering has been washed, dried, folded and put to rest in the focolaio… or, that’s what the Codipontesi call our chestnut drying shed… until next year’s Season of Fun. No more Aia Parties. The Fall & Winter will be passed with the memories of pizze, carne all brace, patate al forno, verdure ripiene and enough sweets to KILL your teeth, happily produced innumerable times by You’s Duo of Girl-friends… Do & Si. Clocks “fall back” this coming Saturday. The mornings & evenings are nippy now. The Dogs do not stir until at least 9AM. The nights are COLD. Blessedly, La Casa Grande remains a warm 18C/65F by night. I AM DEBATING whether to relocate or not up to L’Appartamento Azzurro. Sitting sideways to a good fire in the box since, The Dogs have commandeered as their own the 2 sitting chairs, would be nicer than hearing the hum of the butane burning used to take the humidity out of the air down in the Salotto/BR of La Casa Grande. Means lugging practically everything I own up to the new HQ. December 1, or thereabouts, I will return to Genoa until March 2015. Gads.

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Our weather…

Not often, but sometimes, there are the most odd yet interesting blues about Codiponte. Last night, it was the sky. A half-assed rain system had fled to the Balkans. Good, it’s their turn to deal with unseasonal HEAT & HUMIDITY and very little O2. Today it is bright, windy and COLD. We have the Standard Blue for Italian sunshine. I’m not complaining, just remarking. Gads.

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